Activision Blizzard and Google have entered a multi-year partnership to “power new player experiences,” and part of the deal is for the Overwatch League and the newly launched Call of Duty League to be exclusively streamed on YouTube.
YouTube will host Activision Blizzard’s official live broadcasts of its esports leagues, which started on January 24 for the launch weekend of the first season of the Call of Duty League with 12 teams. To follow suit will be the Overwatch League, which will kick off its 2020 season on February 8.
All of Activision Blizzard’s esports events will be livestreamed on each league’s dedicated YouTube channel, which will also offer fans archived videos and other special content.
“Both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League are the quintessential examples of world-class esports content. As a former Call of Duty esports commentator myself, I couldn’t be more excited for Activision Blizzard to choose YouTube as its exclusive home for the digital live streaming of both leagues,” said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s Head of Gaming, in a statement.
The Overwatch League’s move to YouTube is a blow to Twitch. The Amazon-owned video game streaming service paid $90 million to secure exclusive streaming rights for the league’s first two seasons, but it appears that Google lodged a more lucrative bid to sway Activision Blizzard towards YouTube.
It is also possible that Activision Blizzard made the decision to go with YouTube instead of Twitch due to the other incentives offered by a partnership with Google. The agreement between the two companies also includes Google Cloud being tapped to help enhance Activision Blizzard’s gaming infrastructure.
Twitch continues to hold the largest market share in video game livestreaming, but its dominance is slipping away. It held 67.1% of the market in 2018, but slipped to 61% in 2019. Twitch has been losing individual streamers, including the high-profile departures of Ninja and Shroud for Microsoft’s Mixer.
Twitch has reportedly failed to achieve its revenue goals, which has placed it in a difficult position. YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, meanwhile, have Google’s and Facebook’s resources at their disposal, so the landscape of the video game streaming industry may further shift in the years to come.
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